Michael Vick made his first appearance in court yesterday in connection with federal dogfighting charges. Not surprisingly, Vick entered a "not guilty" plea. Michael's lead attorney Billy Martin made a confident statement declaring their intent to vigorously fight the charges.
There were a few notable developments at the hearing.
The judge ordered Vick to remain in the Richmond area. This is not a highly unusual restriction. However, Vick would need court approval to travel outside of the Richmond area. Obviously, Vick's travel restrictions would complicate any effort to play for the Falcons at home and on the road.
Also, the federal government announced they would introduce a superceding indictment in the coming weeks. It's difficult to speculate on the nature of the new indictment. It could be for the purpose of adding or subtracting conspirators. For example, maybe Vick's cousin Davon Boddie (who lived in the house) finally gets charged. Also, the government could be introducing new charges applicable to some or all of the current defendants. Most likely they would be of a separate nature. For example, a gambling or drug trafficking charge, as those activities frequently go hand in hand with dog fighting enterprises.
Finally, Billy Martin made a statement on behalf of Michael Vick.
"Today in court I pleaded innocent to the allegations made against me. I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name. I respectfully ask all of you to hold your judgment until all of the facts are shown. Above all I would like to say to my mom I'm sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times. It has caused pain to my family and I apologize to my family. I also want to apologize to my Falcon teammates for not being with them at the beginning of spring training."
Personally, I am disappointed that Vick didn't make that himself. Legally, there is absolutely no benefit for Vick to make any statement. However, there is a pragmatic need to balance court in the technical sense and the court of public opinion. Vick has to protect his freedom, but he also needs to protect his image. It's possible to do both.
Also, it's hilarious that Michael Vick didn't apologize to Arthur Blank or the Falcons organization in general. I guess they're not friends anymore. But if you're so-called friends will cast you aside when there's trouble, Blank is barely an upgrade over the "friends" who helped get Vick into the situation he faces now.